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Formula E's super subs

With the news that David Beckman will be jumping in to replace Avalanche Andretti's Andre Lotterer in Jakarta, it got us thinking. Which other famous faces have stepped in as reserve drivers, whether due to a clash of commitments or an injury preventing someone from starting a Formula E race? Here are just a few!

Pierre Gasly Formula E

Pierre Gasly (New York City, 2016)

That's right, the Formula 1 race winner once found himself behind the wheel of a Formula E car. Reigning GP2 champion at the time, Gasly was brought in for two races in New York City to replace Sebastien Buemi at Renault e.dams. Although he had a day of testing under his belt, Gasly was relatively inexperienced in the all-electric single-seaters, which was not helped by the fact he missed shakedown on Friday evening. 

The Frenchman qualified 19th for the first race but climbed up to a respectable seventh. Now familiar with the Brooklyn street circuit, the next day, he set the fastest lap of the whole weekend - a 1m02.080s - in the group stages but made a mistake during Super Pole, so he only started fourth. He would come incredibly close to a podium in the second race, but in the end, he settled for fourth after crashing when exiting the final turn! 

Gasly Formula E 2

Simona de Silvestro, Sakon Yamamoto, Alex Fontana (London, 2015)

Swiss driver de Silvestro was brought in by Andretti for the remaining two races of Season 1 and partnered Jean-Eric Vergne in the team. Racing in London, she became the third woman to compete in Formula E and would later be snapped up by the Amlin Andretti team for the following season. She finished just outside the points in both London races and was drafted in to replace Justin Wilson. 

That same weekend, Sakon Yamamoto also made his first and only Formula E outing. The former Formula 1 driver was brought in to replace Antonio Felix da Costa, who had a race commitment for the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM). Yamamoto retired from both events. 

Alex Fontana also got his only taste of the championship at the Battersea Park circuit that same year, being swapped in as Vitantonio Liuzzi was double booked and was racing in the GT Asia Series at Okayama that same weekend. Fontana failed to finish the first race and crossed the chequered flag in 14th for the Sunday event. 

Simona de Silvestro Formula E

Rene Rast (Berlin, 2016)

You might know him as one-half of NEOM McLaren's current Formula E line-up, but Rene Rast was once a super sub. Antonio Felix da Costa was again off to race in DTM, so Rast was brought in to race at his home event in Germany in Season 2. 

Racing for Team Aguri, it was the first time since 2004 that Rast had driven a single-seater. After stopping on the Berlin street circuit in practice, he qualified in 13th but would not finish the race after picking up damage early on in the E-Prix. Failing to classify, Rast was shown a black and orange flag which meant he was forced to pit to repair the issue to his rear wing, ultimately ruining his race.

Rast returned for the Berlin blockbuster in Season 6, when he raced for Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler when there were six races in nine days. Here he picked up a podium, and after an entire season with Audi the following year, he joined the McLaren family in their first year of the all-electric championship. 

Rast Audi Sport

Alex Lynn (New York, 2017)

With Jose Maria Lopez missing the New York E-Prix due to commitments with Toyota in the World Endurance Championship, young Brit Alex Lynn made the step up. The GP3 champion had already looked quick across the first few sessions of the weekend, but stunned everyone when he achieved the Julius Baer Pole Position in his DS Virgin Racing machine on debut! 

"Just to be here and racing in New York is so great, and to be on Pole Position for my first race is a little bit unbelievable," Lynn said then. Almost three-tenths quicker than second-place Daniel Abt (Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler), Lynn certainly made a fantastic first impression. Unfortunately, he retired from both races but didn't have to wait long as the DS Virgin crew gave him a full-time race seat the following season. 

Alex Lynn Formula E

Sacha Fenestraz (Seoul, 2022)

Current Nissan driver Fenestraz got a very last-minute call-up to jump in for an injured Antonio Giovinazzi last season. The Dragon driver hurt his thumb in a clash with da Costa during the first of two races in Seoul at the end of Season 8, which led to the French-Argentine getting a surprising phone call the following day! 

After getting the heads up at 6:30am, and with no prior knowledge of the Seoul Sports Complex circuit, he was given the green light to race and quickly got to grips with everything. Although he finished at the back of his qualifying group, he stayed out of trouble in the race to pass the chequered flag in 16th. 

He told Autosport at the time that he "was studying more than I ever studied in school! I honestly haven't studied this much for many years. I was just trying to put all the information on board in my head and try my best.

Fenestraz Seoul

"It was a tricky one because this morning they called me up pretty soon, and I was at the track, but I had to focus on the pedal set but then also learn the steering."

Norman Nato (Seoul, 2022)

That same weekend, Fenestaz's current Nissan teammate, Norman Nato, made a Formula E comeback. Having represented Venturi in Season 7, he was left without a drive the following year despite winning the final race in Berlin. 

However, Nato was asked to return for a weekend in Seoul when TCS Jaguar Racing's Sam Bird was ruled out with an injury. With Bid suffering a broken hand, Nato was drafted in to race for the Jaguar team over the double header. He finished both races in 13th and 14th, respectively. 

Nato Venturi

Honourable mentions 

In the early days of Formula E, there were many driver swaps mid-season, but things soon settled, and now bringing in reserve drivers is quite a rarity. 

WEC legend Mike Conway drove for Faraday Future Dragon Racing in place of Loic Duval in Season 3 of Formula E. Although Conway had experience in the championship as he took part in seven races for Venturi the year before, he was drafted in for the Paris E-Prix for a single event where he finished in 14th. 

Ma Qinghua also made two appearances with NIO in Season 4, when he replaced Luca Filippi at the Paris E-Prix that year and Oliver Turvey in the New York finale. The Chinese driver had competed in seven races with Techeetah and Team Aguri before his reserve driver duties with NIO and was promoted to a full-time driver for the team in Season 6. Unfortunately, the pandemic meant he could not see out the season, as he missed the final six races in Berlin due to travel limitations.  

Conway Formula E

Some drivers have done more than the odd race to help here and there. Kelvin van der Linde took over the reins at ABT CUPRA earlier this year when their driver Robin Frijns broke his wrist and was unable to race for several months. Joel Eriksson also got the chance to finish the remainder of Season 7 when he replaced DRAGON/PENSKE Autosport's Nico Mueller at the Puebla E-Prix, which turned into a deal for the rest of the year.